I've noticed that some of the 'friends I have never met' (as Thomas calls them) who I look up to the most increasingly have the first name of John --Calvin, Bunyan, Edwards, Piper, MacArthur. I have added John Owen to the list .
John Owen was a man for his times. I recently picked up a book by five professors from (mostly from England) who wrote for the conference of the Jown Owen Centre for Theological Study: Sinclair Ferguson, Graham S. Harrison, Michael A. G. Haykin, Robert W. Oliver, and Carl R. Trueman. The book is called, John Owen: The Man and His Theology. This book is a valuable read for anyone who loves the doctrine of sovereignty, Pneumatology, Christology, or even Ecclesiology.
Particularly challenging was John Owen's view of theology. Trueman states, "My contention is that Owen's theology was overwhelmingly shaped by his doctrine of God, and its counterpoint in his understanding of humanity" (44). I find in Owen a man who was concerned foremost that people have a correct view of God. as a result of this, he fiercly combatted the Pelagianism, Arminianism, Socinianism, and Quakerism that was present in his day through the use of tongue and pen. What's more, he desired that this view of God play itself out in his own day to day holiness. Hence his writings on the person of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Ferguson explains it well: "One of the axioms that Owen returns to again and again as a preacher of the gospel is that there is a difference between the knowledge of the truth and the knowledge of the power of the truth...it is the presence of the Spirit of God that transforms our bare knowledge of truth into our experience of the power of the truth" (106-107). For Owen, theology must be applied. Application of theology results in a closeness to God that produces holiness.
I must end with two things. First, I am resolved to read more John Owen. Second, with Piper I have to say, "Brothers read Christian biographies!" There is a wealth of godly example that can be learned from the lives of those who thought our thoughts before us.
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